Sam Hornish Jr. Wins His Second Consecutive IRL Championship
Dallas Texas, September 15, 2002 - In the second-closest finish in IRL history, Sam Hornish Jr. and the Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone/HPC team edged out rival Helio Castoneves to win the Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, also earning Sam his second consecutive IRL Championship.
Hornish beat Castronevas to the finish by just 0.0096 of a second, recording his fifth victory of the season and becoming the first driver to win two IRL Championship titles. Along with Sam's IRL record 5 wins this season, he has earned 2 poles, had 11 Top 5 finishes and turned-in the most laps led in 12 of the 15 races. Pennzoil co-owner John Barnes said of Sam after the race "Sam is just greatest driver I have ever seen. We're just so blessed, lucky to have him, to have him a part of our team and you know he understands these blessings, also."
Sam now holds the IRL records for most races led in a season, closest margin of victory (over Al Unser, Jr by 0.0024 of a second on 9/8/2002 at Chicagoland), most consecutive races running at finish, and most IRL victories in a season. Sam was also named "2002 Driver of the Year", beating out NASCAR veteran Sterling Marlin for the honor.
The 23-year old driver stepped into the #4 car for the 2001 IRL season, replacing veteran Scott Goodyear. Sam went on to win the IRL championship in his first full year in the driver's seat, becoming the youngest champion of a major, North American open-wheel series in modern racing history.
HPC congratulates Sam and the whole Panther Racing team, and is very proud to be a part of this team of champions. HPC supplies coatings and services for many parts on the #4 car including HiPerCoat Extreme� for the exhaust system and S-Series dry film lubricants for many drivetrain components.